As if dealing with this COVID-19 pandemic mess hasn't been challenging enough, let's add in the fact that we're approaching flu season.

And, if you're one who hasn't put much thought into getting a flu shot, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is continuing their call for everyone six months of age and older to get flu shots, saying co-infection of both the flu and COVID-19 could be especially dangerous.

In simpler terms, both the flu and COVID-19 suck on their own, but when they combine forces on you, it can quickly become a very serious problem.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike:

This season more than ever, it is critical that Illinoisans get our flu shots. Flu and COVID-19 each can cause serious respiratory illness and co-infection could possibly lead to more severe illnesses, hospitalization, and even death. While a vaccine for COVID-19 is still in development, a vaccine for flu already exists and is your best protection against flu. The choice is yours, but I urge you to not risk co-infection of two potentially deadly viruses. Please try and protect yourself and the people around you by getting the flu vaccine, which has been proven over the years to be safe and effective.

While we may be focused on those who've tested positive for COVID-19 and the resulting hospitalizations and deaths, don't forget how many people are taken out by the flu each year. Literally millions of Americans contract the flu, and tens of thousands die every single year.

If you're wondering how to tell the difference between symptoms of the flu and symptoms of COVID-19, the IDPH released this chart to illustrate some of the differences:

SYMPTOMSFLUCOVID-19
Symptom onset2 days2-14 days
Body AchesCommonCommon
CoughCommonCommon
DiarrheaSometimesSometimes
Fatigue/weaknessCommonCommon
Fever/chills/shakingCommonCommon
Loss of taste or smellRareSometimes
Shortness of breath or
difficulty breathing
CommonCommon
Stuffy noseCommonCommon
SneezingSometimesRare
Sore throatCommonCommon
HeadacheCommonCommon

More information about influenza can be found on the IDPH website at www.dph.illinois.gov.